Metal-obsessed comedian Brian Posehn is now married and living in suburb, so is he about to hide his devil horns?
By John Delery
It’s not as if would ever skip a System of a Down concert to attend a zoning board meeting. It’s not as if he has completely forsaken head banging with his buddies just to hang out at home with his wife. It’s just that Brian Posehn is suddenly at the intersection of Youth and Middle Age, a crossroad paved with something even gooier than tar — the mawkish mixture of maturity and responsibility.
But the way he talks, settling in the Valley outside Los Angeles (instead of in a celebrity compound in Beverly Hills or Malibu) sounds like more of a career move than an unexpected detour. “I’m living in suburbia,” Posehn says at his home office. “Nice picket fence. Nice neighbors.”
With Posehn being a successful comedian, comic actor (Just Shoot Me, Mr. Show With Bob and David, the upcoming movie Balls of Fury) and comedy writer, suddenly you sniff a punch line through the phone line. “My neighbors would say the same thing about me, yeah,” Posehn assures. “I’m a good neighbor… except for the occasional pot smoke that wafts over their fence. But that’s about it. No, no. I signed a petition to get speed bumps on the street; that’s neighborly, right?”
Just because Posehn brakes for children and stray party animals doesn’t mean he has outgrown putting the pedal to the heavy metal. He has two parody paeans to his passion, “Try Again, Again” and “Metal by Numbers,” on Live In: Nerd Rage, his newly released comedy CD on Relapse Records. On it, Posehn, apparently the Prince of Dorkness, guides listeners on a comic and sometimes sardonic exploration of his life. He cuts through the roots of his “rage” with a wit sharper than any machete.
“All that stuff, it’s definitely me, definitely me. That story, the main nerd-rage story, happened. I told it at a couple of alternative clubs, just got up and did it story-style, and it worked,” he says, referring to “The Mattress Story,” wherein Posehn has a misunderstanding with two helpful men he mistakenly thinks are mocking jocks. “I realized then that other people would connect with it, too. At first, I was never going to do that joke in my act just because it’s not as jokey as the rest of the stuff I write. But since then, it’s kind of changed my act; I’ve written more stuff similar to that and become a little more real onstage.”
Instead of it weighing him down, Posehn simply removes material from the emotional baggage he carries with him every day and converts sore subjects into uproarious stories.
“The anger I have about what happened to me 20 years ago is still a real thing,” he says. “It’s ridiculous but true. That’s part of who I am; I’m always going to feel like a misfit, from loving heavy metal to looking the way I do. I’m not going to say that I’m happy I was picked on in high school, but to a certain extent, I owe a lot to it because it’s made me be funnier.”
BOY MEETS GIRL; DOG LICKS GIRL
Nowadays, “long live rock and droll” seems to be Posehn’s primary mission statement. He believes he can fuse metal and comedy through his association with Relapse Records, a well-respected indie label with a roster that includes Cephalic Carnage, Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Necrophagist.
“I’m not going to change my act and only do metal jokes from now on because I’m at Relapse,” he says, laughing. “I think it just sort of makes my work available to the guys who already like me, but also, I think I’ll get more fans out of it. It’s a direction my act was kind of going organically, anyway.”
“I saw other [comedians] signing to labels that kind of fit who they are and what their musical taste is,” he continues. “It makes sense for me to be with a metal label because I do talk about it a lot onstage, and I do want to write more songs. Once I signed at Relapse, I put two songs on this record that weren’t on it when I put it out by myself last year.”
“Try Again, Again” is a fleshier version of a slender sketch he wrote for Mr. Show in the ’90s. “It was 20 seconds long on the show,” recalls Posehn, “so I just did a chorus. But then I wrote this full song. I wrote the verses and another chorus and recorded it with Scott Ian [of Anthrax] and a couple of other friends.”
“Metal by Numbers,” a satirical song Posehn, a regular on the Comedians of Comedy tour with Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford and Eugene Mirman, wrote in November, “is based on my reaction to the heavy metal that’s kind of popular now,” says Posehn, who recently shot a companion video that’s available on his MySpace.com page. “As I say in the song, it’s just metal by numbers. It’s not really very thoughtful, or it’s ‘I’ll do what other guys have done.’”
Once a metal maniac, always a metal maniac, that’s Posehn’s lifelong refrain.
“I think it’s like me not letting go of something,” he says. “It’s a comfort. To me, it’s like my chicken and mashed potatoes to listen to Metallica. I don’t know, it’s just something that I clicked with when I was very young, and I know that I’ll never shake it, I love it so much. It’s a huge part of who I am — being a heavy-metal fan — and I think most real metal fans feel pretty much the same way. I’ve definitely noticed that connection the past couple of years now that people are starting to see me as kind of a metal comic.”
Without pausing for breath and without derailing his train of thought, Posehn continues his “really dorky metal rant.” “It’s a metal thing of being proud of what you like because a lot of people don’t like it, you know,” he says. “A lot of people only surface hear it and think it’s all silly. They haven’t heard the great stuff or haven’t been moved by it. When I talk about it, I still feel like the 15-year-old who’s so passionate about it, ‘If you don’t like it, you’re stupid.’ I try to be a little more articulate than that, but that’s basically what I’m saying.”
Although Posehn the Mature Man continues to relate to Posehn the Misfit Teen, he has “a totally different life, totally different subjects to talk about” these days because nearly two years ago he married the girl of his schemes.
“She worked for my manager, Dave Rath,” says Posehn, pressing the rewind button and stopping at the favorite scene from his life story. “He hired her as an assistant, and she came to a New Year’s party of ours – I used to live in the same place as Dave. We had this crazy party, and there was this super-cute girl there I’d never seen before.”
“Of course, I didn’t talk to her — I mean why would I? After the party, I asked my manager, ‘Who the fuck was that lady?’ Then soon I started dating her because I turned her over the phone. I kept calling for Dave and would make my subtle moves. I finally got up the nerve to ask her out, and eight years later we’re married.”
Since marrying Melanie in September 2004, Posehn hasn’t exactly cleaned up his act, but to avoid mortifying his always amused but sometimes blushing bride, he does admit to tidying it up a bit.
“I had to ask her permission [to share with audiences the time] when her dog licked her vagina,” Posehn says, laughing again. “I swear to God, we had this conversation five minutes after it happened: I said, ‘Well, you know I’m talking about this onstage, right?’ She was like, ‘Yeah, yeah as long as it’s funny.
I think that bit pretty much wrote itself that night.”
“She blushes when people she knows are in the audience, but the joke gets such a great response, she can’t really argue it. But there are just some things I know I should just stay away from.” Usually this sort of nerd-meets-girl love story ends happily only in Woody Allen movies. Says Posehn, “I couldn’t be with a prude and do the act I have.”
For more information, visit brianposehn.com.